Photo: Tetsuya Akiba, CEO and Art Director,
ASHURASCOPE INSTALLATION Co., Ltd.
“Projection Mapping (PM)” has become very familiar as one of the entertainment genres. Simply put, it is the technology projecting images onto surfaces of buildings or objects by using computer graphics (CG) and projectors. Having reportedly started to prevail overseas in the 60’s, it became popular in Japan in 2012, triggered by an event held at the Marunouchi yard of Tokyo Station. A realistic image world projected on the station’s brick wall used as a screen garnered wide attention and thereafter similar events have been held at various places including museums, recreation grounds and castles.
ASHURASCOPE INSTALLATION Co., Ltd. introduced here is a PM production company but has a unique presence in this world because of its distinctive features clearly differentiated from its peers. We interviewed CEO Tetsuya Akiba.
Photo: Both are examples of MEDIARIUM®. Designing whole space unlike simple PM for show viewing.
As is mentioned, it has been 3-4 years since PM became popular in Japan but CEO Akiba says he has been developing his technologies since the latter half of 1990s when he was learning architectonics at a university faculty of engineering.
“While thinking to apply graphics to architectures, I was lapping tracing paper with drawings on it over a monitor and synthesizing images and also projecting images to not only flat objects like screens but three-dimensional objects such as buildings. At that time, I had no concepts of PM in mind and was trying these simply out of my intellectual curiosity.
In 2002, Akiba started ASHURASCOPE, a spatial design production using graphics and images, and continued R&Ds on PM besides. He applied for patents for basic concepts of PM in 2005 and built track records in 2006 such as exhibiting his PM at Tokyo Designers Week 100%DesignTokyo and producing a live show which fully utilized PM.
The foundation of ASHURASCOPE INSTALLATION Co., Ltd. was in 2011. In 2013, after further evolving his PM used in a variety of genres including construction, graphics, images, music, websites and arts, he registered a trademark for a technology brand dabbed MEDIARIUM.
Photo: MEDIARIUM® provided at a tea salon Sir Thomas LIPTON TEA HOUSE GINZA in September 15 (left) and a restaurant CASA AfeliZ GINZA in January 16 (right)
MEDIARIUM is a coined word combining “Media” which include various contents such as construction, images, music and lighting and “RIUM” meaning the space that stimulates five senses.
“RIUM means space as it appears in such words as aquarium and planetarium. Compared to common PM which projects image contents suited for screen shapes, MEDIARIUM® works at the place with limited projection distance and can deal with small image subjects as well as map images on intricately shaped objects with considerable asperities. Backing up the establishment of the technology is expertise in and technologies of architectural designing our staffs including myself have. As we also have experience as architecture, interior and graphic designers, we can do complex PM by computing three-dimensional structures and space, which is different from just projecting flat PM.
You can simulate experience of merits of MEDIARIUM® by watching the video of inside a restaurant in Tokyo, the one produced by us and uploaded to this website. Flowers change colors time to time and butterflies elegantly keep flying—unlike common PM which shows video contents which force viewers to watch, our PM creates moments in which restaurant guests can enjoy good foods and drinks, in addition to playing a role of adding fascination to atmosphere itself.
Another feature of MEDIARIUM® is its low operation costs. Conventional PM usually uses very expensive, special equipment while MEDIARIUM® is realized with commonly sold components and hence offers much lower costs.
This business requires communication abilities such as hearing “What do you intend and want to do?” at the meetings with clients, Akiba says.
The company won 2015 Tokyo Venture Technology Grand Prize as its unique technology MEDIARIUM was highly appreciated. Akiba surely appreciates this but says the company will brace itself up and continue to work on its business with basic stances kept intact
“Clients themselves, though having vague images, usually do not have clear ideas about what they want to do as they never tried our products. We are trying to offer best-class solutions to clients by sharing opinions, taking advantage of our skills to cover all the client needs as professionals with expertise in architecture.
He also says the company’s location in Tokyo is beneficial. Shinjuku is an attractive place surrounded by various cultures and arts with its convenient access to anywhere.
They used to do relatively glamorous businesses such as producing live concerts, theater plays and music videos but recently increasing are daily events such as at wedding parties and restaurants where end users are involved directly.
We will be pursuing such Monozukuri (manufacturing) that clients can boast to their guests saying ’Isn’t this PM image cool?’ with big smiles.